During the week we put this column on hiatus to make room for articles related to the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, a number of items have come in relating to talented Alaskans making waves outside their home state. We'll try to catch up with some of them here.
Annie Margeson, a UAA student majoring in elementary education and minoring in dance, won first place for the second year in a row from the Canadian 5-6-7-8 Showtime competition last month with her self-choreographed Irish hornpipe-acro-jazz solo dance "Irish Warrior." The graduate of Grace Christian School and alumna of Sunshine Generation and Music Machine is the only Alaska woman selected to dance in London for the World Irish Dance Championships 2014.
Another Anchorage musician, Cierra Mickens, has hung in on the NBC talent show "The Voice." Mickens, who grew up in Alaska, has a degree in criminal justice and political science and is giving "music one last shot." The competition starts with "blind auditions," in which contestants are judged solely on their voices; the judges can't see them. Then the judges -- music business biggies -- form teams and select the aspiring talent they want to work with. As the program rolls along, some singers are eliminated and others are "stolen" by other teams. Fans of the show tell me that "stolen" really means "saved"; one team leader picks up a contestant who has been dropped by another. Mickens started on Team Shakira but was stolen by Team Usher last week.
The NBC show topped its 8 p.m. time slot on Tuesday with a Nielsen rating of 3.4 in the 18-49 age group, though "NCIS" had more total viewers. We note a duet act, Alaska & Madi, was previously eliminated from Team Blake on "The Voice." Madi Metcalf and "best friend" Alaska Rayne Holloway are from Tulsa, Okla. We're not sure how either of them got their first names.
Aubrie Lucas, a flutist from Dimond, is a recipient of the National High School Heart of the Arts Award given by the National Federation of State High School Associations, based in Indianapolis. The group seeks to recognize people who "exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities." The award is presented by region, with Lucas receiving the prize for the district including Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming as well as Alaska. She has previously won the flute division of the Alaska State Solo and Ensemble Competition and was the only flute player in the All-Northwest Band last year. Now in her senior year, she plays first chair with the Dimond High School Symphonic Band and is in the Anchorage Youth Symphony.
But she doesn't see the sheet music. Lucas has been blind since birth. She's able to read the notes in Braille, but can't do it while using her fingers to play the notes. "She gets the feel of a piece of music by first listening to others perform it," says a press release. She also has perfect pitch and a very good memory.
Speaking of aspiring musicians, the Anchorage Festival of Music is taking applications for the 2014 Young Alaskan Artist Award. The prize includes a full-length solo debut recital in Anchorage and money, typically $2,000 to $4,000. Applications are open to any young Alaskan who is at least a college freshman pursuing a college degree or program in music performance at an accredited institution. More information is at anchoragefestivalmusic.com/yaapplication.htm.
Eagle River composer premieres work in LA
Alaskan Daniel Corral, now working in California, had a premiere on March 27. "Collapse," described as "a sardonic requiem mass for the collapse of the planet," debuted at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater -- aka REDCAT -- on March 27. The multimedia show included video and fashion design elements and was presented by Timur and The Dime Museum, a "post-punk operatic band."
"We will be presenting the piece in Miami, Rotterdam, West Adams, New York and Toronto," Corral said. The Chugiak High School graduate, born and raised in Eagle River, is the nephew of photographer Roy Corral. He has a bachelor of music degree from the University of Puget Sound and a master of fine arts degree in composition from the California Institute of the Arts. He's hoping to get into a doctoral program in composition next year.
Anchorage poet Susanna J. Mishler will debut her new book, "Termination Dust," at 8 p.m. Friday at Anchorage Community Works, 349 E. Ship Creek Ave. Mishler will give a reading followed by a book signing and screening of two video poems. There'll be live music by Anna Lynch and art by Ruby Suzanna on display. Food and a cash bar will be provided.
The author described the poems as using dreamlike narrative to grapple with questions of death and belonging. "A strange romance between inner and outer landscapes emerges from what increasingly seem like the prayers of an atheist. ... The poems are a kind of spiritual notebook for the unbeliever."
Poet Mishler is a cousin of photographer Clark James Mishler, who has a First Friday opening of his own work at the Alaska Humanities Forum, about a block away, just before the reading at Anchorage Community Works.
Ballet program announced
Anchorage Ballet will present a triple bill next Friday and Saturday. The program will feature the Anchorage premiere of "Chopiniana," set by Michel Fokine to the music of Frederic Chopin. Principal dancers Dale Jordan and Seth Belliston from California will be joined by local soloists Tegan Grunditz and Molly Swanson. The Chopin will be supplied by pianist Juliana Osinchuk.
The program will also include a feline-filled excerpt from "The Jellicle Ball" -- as in "Jellicle Cats" -- choreographed by General McArthur Hambrick (that's the choreographer's name, not his rank). It will also feature an original tango-charged piece, "Coffee Tonight," choreographed by Aurelio Colon.
Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Sydney Laurence Theatre. Tickets are available at centertix.net.
AK in CA
Photographer Brian Adams, whose book "I Am Alaskan" was featured in this section on Nov. 17, 2013, is having a show at the LA Artcore Center, 120 Judge John Aiso St. in downtown Los Angeles. Greg Kimura, who arranged for the show, said the exhibit, which consists of work from the book, will be displayed April 18-30.
Rick Zelinsky's commendable Tribute to the Jazz Masters series will wrap up the season with a program dedicated to the music of Horace Silver. There'll be a big ensemble on stage, with Zelinsky on sax, guitarist Mark Manners, pianist Tom Bargelski, Ray Booker on bass, Brandon Cockburn on drums and the ever-impressive Pat Owens handling the horns. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday at Tap Root and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 5, in the Recital Hall at UAA's Fine Arts Building. After that, the series goes on hiatus until fall. More information at icygrooves.com.
Reach Mike Dunham at email@example.com or 257-4332.
By MIKE DUNHAM